Every winter for the past few years I’ve spent countless hours watching the squirrels.
There were five hanging out beneath the bird feeders the other day. They practise a tense Cold War, facing each other 18 inches apart. Sometimes one would get a little too close – much squeaking would ensure. Occasionally an incursion would lead to physical combat.
Then suddenly they would forget their battle and go back to foraging for fallen food.
The squirrels operate under an algorithm of distraction, running from bright, shiny seed to bright, shiny seed; digging here, forgetting why they were digging, then digging somewhere else.
They’re like our robot vacuum cleaner, but with more mess. And perhaps not as intelligent.
But then I remember… they’re not the flibbertigibbets they seem. Indeed, they’re as smart as anything else out there in the woods.
Why? Because they know who they are, where they live – and how to live there. Squirrel and spruce are a perfect fit. They caress the land as if the rocks and logs are extensions of their bodies. They’re like animated Earth, a flourishing of life among billions of other flourishings of life on a living planet.
That, for them, is enough.
I’d like to think, if we were also at home, we would feel enough too. If we understood we were part of, in Mary Oliver’s words, the family of things, we would relax. Instead of striving to prove we are worthy, we’d know it in our bones.
That doesn’t mean we can’t do something wonderful. We can compose that opera, start that business. But these endeavors come from a place of sufficiency, knowing we are enough – and we deserve to be here with every cell.
I like to think the squirrels, for all their frantic activity, have the calm, secure knowledge they are part of all that is, so their lives are intrinsically worthwhile.
That’s being home.